The nightmare of love across the West Bank barrier

By Majeda El Bats, Agence France-Presse, Jordan Times

A Palestinian woman waiting behind the iron bars of an Israeli-controlled checkpoint between the biblical West Bank town of Bethlehem and Jerusalem, September 5, 2010 (AFP file photo)

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – When Sana, who comes from the West Bank city of Hebron, married her Jerusalem-born husband Mohammed 13 years ago, she never imagined their union would lead to a life of fear and hiding.

At first, their different residency permits – hers for the West Bank, his for Jerusalem – were not much of an issue.

She could live with her husband in Arab East Jerusalem with a temporary permit, and movement between the city and the West Bank was still fairly easy.

But, with the outbreak of the second Palestinian Intifada in 2000, travel restrictions gradually tightened until in 2003, Israel effectively stopped issuing Jerusalem residency permits to Palestinians in what caught Sana and Mohammed in an impossible bind.

Without an Israeli permit, Sana can’t live in Jerusalem with her husband and children. But if Mohammed moves to the West Bank, he risks losing his Jerusalem residency and all access to the city of his birth.

Palestinians say it has never been easy to get a residency permit to move from the West Bank to East Jerusalem.

But in 2003, as the Intifada raged on, Israel passed an emergency measure which effectively ended the process of “family reunification”, citing security concerns.

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